It’s so cliche, but they really do grow up too fast
There’s a picture circulating on Facebook which really struck a chord with me. It appeared to be a hand-painted, wooden sign which had amassed roughly nine gazillion likes. It read:
Hold him a little longer
Rock him a little more
Tell him another story
(You’ve only told him four)
Let him sleep on your shoulder
Rejoice in his happy smile
He is only a little boy
For such a little while
(For the record, I rarely share sappy things. I’m much more likely to repost something from The Oatmeal.)
I’m not sure why this caused me to tear up a little as I read it. For the record, I also never cry. Like, ever.
Maybe I simply happened across it at a particular moment in my life. For whatever reason, I think a lot lately about how my kids really are growing up fast. As a good friend likes to say; the days are long, but the years are short. My son is approaching six and his younger sister is eighteen months behind. He’s wrapping up kindergarten (!); she’s in preschool. In some ways, those tumultuous nights in the hospital feel like only a few months ago.
I’ll see a friend with their baby or toddler and realize it has been years since I had to hold their hand on the stairs or feed them pureed sweet potatoes or teach them to say da-da.
Our kids will now actually play with each other — nicely even — and can entertain themselves for more than ten consecutive minutes. They ask wonderful questions and verbalize charming observations. Fortunately, they also possess their mother’s beauty. Their laughter is amongst the sweetest sounds I have ever known. Watching them grow and learn, I love rediscovering parts of the world I have long taken for granted or even forgotten about.
My wife and I love our children and cannot imagine life without them. At the same time, they can also be relentless terrorists. Being a parent is easily the most difficult thing we’ve ever done. Sometimes it also feels like the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done, but there are plenty of days in which it’s 9:37am and we’re already silently counting the minutes until bedtime.
In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert cites four different studies which demonstrate that marital happiness generally tanks after children enter the picture and doesn’t fully recover until they leave home. We all know at least one parent who gushes about the continuously awesome-sauce experience of raising their kids; maybe you’re even one of them! (In which case … what are you reading this blog for? I have nothing to offer you.) We’re happy for these parents, but we’re also a little … envious. Like, can they actually enjoy vacuuming so much rice off of the floor?
You would think that as much time as we spend being parents, we would get better at it as we go on. Nope. I have never felt more consistently clueless.
My children are chasing each other naked through the kitchen, laughing hysterically about sniffing each others’ butts and screaming “poopy doggy” at the top of their lungs. Like, do I intervene? Do I hide in a closet until they pass out and fall asleep on the floor?
I suppose my purpose in sharing this to encourage any parent, particularly new parents who are especially deprived of sleep and adult conversation.
I understand. Hundreds of millions of other parents do too, since the beginning of time.
Having emphasized our connectedness and with as much compassion as I possess, I also encourage you to remember that each new chapter brings new challenges, yes. But today’s chapter may also close before you’re quite ready for it to.
My dad loves to quote his mom who echoed this ancient bit of wisdom;
This too shall pass.
Feel free to remind me of these words tomorrow. I’ll probably need to hear them then, too.